California law defines simple battery under PEN 242 as unlawful or offensive touching of another person, even the slightest physical contact. Therefore, you can be guilty of battery when you make the slightest touch with a person without their consent.
When the non-consensual contact results in serious physical injuries, the crime is deemed battery with serious bodily injury under PEN 243d. The offense attracts more severe penalties than a simple battery because you lose your gun ownership rights and have a criminal record that adversely affects future job opportunities.
Therefore, you should not face the charges alone when charged with a PC 243d violation in Anaheim to avoid a conviction. We are ready to walk this journey with you at the California Criminal Lawyer group and prevent a guilty verdict or have the charges reduced.
Legal Definition and Elements of Battery With Serious Bodily Injury
Otherwise called aggravated battery, PC 243(d) form of a battery refers to any battery that causes serious physical injuries to someone else.
When prosecuting these cases, the prosecuting team must prove the following factors:
You, the defendant, deliberately, illegally, or offensively made physical contact with the victim
The non-consensual contact resulted in serious bodily injury
And you were not acting in self-defense or defense of others
You do it willingly or on purpose when you act willfully under California law. These factors are further discussed below:
You Touched Someone Else
You can only be guilty of aggravated battery if you touch another person or make physical contact, even the slightest fashion of touch on the cloth, using a finger or hand. Again, an indirect touch on someone with an extension of yourself like a pole or handbag amounts to contact under PC 243(d).
The Contact Was Willful
The prosecuting team must prove that the non-consensual touching was deliberate or on purpose. It is worth noting that under PC 243(d), the prosecuting lawyer does not need to prove that you had intentions to hurt the victim, take advantage of them or contravene the law. What they focus on is touching. If you intend to harm or offend the victim by touching them, you would be guilty of this crime.
Also, the contact could not have been intended to cause harm. Nonetheless, when this willful touching causes the victim's injuries, you will have contravened PEN 234(d).
When proving this element, the prosecutor heavily relies on the victim or third-party witnesses to define the shove or punch. Also, the intentional touching could be from a gun, knife, or any other object brandished by the assailant in a threatening fashion.
Furthermore, the witness can describe how the assailant looks right into the face before making a threatening statement. With evidence like this, it will be simple to prove that you, the defendant, made contact intentionally.
In an Offensive or Harmful Fashion
Another critical factor the prosecuting team must demonstrate to convict you for aggravated battery is that the touch was offensive or harmful. Your physical contact will be dangerous when you punch, shove, or punch someone hard.
On the other hand, an offensive touch means any physical contact in a violent, rude, disrespectful, or angry fashion.
For instance, you are playing with a friend and accidentally shove them hard, causing them to sustain injuries. Under these circumstances, you are not guilty of a PC 243(d) infringement because you did not touch them angrily, disrespectfully, or violently. Instead, you were playful.
When proving this factor, the prosecutor relies on the victim’s description of your behavior at the incident. If you were shouting or angry at the victim before making a violent touch or brush, you would be guilty.
Serious Bodily or Physical Injury
For the prosecution to attain the evidentiary standard of beyond reasonable doubt under PEN 243(d), they must prove that the victim sustained severe bodily harm after the offensive touching. The victim does not need to seek medical treatment or examination for the injury to be considered serious. The prosecuting team focuses on whether the touching caused an impairment of their bodily condition. The injuries that are deemed as severe include:
Loss of consciousness
Wounds requiring extensive stitching
Impairment of a bodily organ
Broken or fractured bones
The determination of whether an injury sustained is severe or not is a question or matter left for the jury based on your case’s nature.
The prosecuting lawyer will present the medical report from a medical provider to prove the severity of the injuries as defined under PEN 243(d). However, even with the medical information showing serious bodily harm, your case is not entirely hopeless because even the doctor’s report itself is open to interpretation by the jury.
For example, you argue with a friend, and a shove causes them to fracture their hand. If the injury does not affect the friend’s daily activities and can still work, the damage is not considered serious even when the prosecutor presents evidence to show otherwise.
On the other hand, when the fracture significantly affects the various aspects of the victim’s life to the extent they are unable to work, the jury will deem the injury as serious.
The above example means that even when your victim sustains bruises in a confrontation, the jury could rule them as serious bodily injury when it meets the criteria provided by the law. It means even a minor incident could result in a conviction, so you should not go to court alone in the case.
Assault Vs. Battery
Many Californians assume that assault and battery are the same, thus using the words interchangeably. Well, these are two separate offenses.
Battery refers to the violent or forceful touching of another person. On the other hand, assault under PC 240 uses illegal force or violence or another person. Threats to inflict injuries or an attempt to injure are enough to have you convicted for the crime.
Often, assault happens before the battery. Assault is the action that precedes battery or attempted battery. Assume you threaten to punch someone. In that case, you have committed assault. Nonetheless, when you hit the person, your actions amount to battery.
Penalties for Battery With Serious Injuries
Aggravated battery is a wobbler offense. Therefore, when the prosecuting lawyer feels they have sufficient evidence, they can charge you with a misdemeanor or felony. The decision depends on their discretion and the case’s nature.
If you are a first-time offender and the injury inflicted on the victim is uncertain, the prosecutor will charge you with a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor PEN 243(d) violation is punishable by at most twelve months of county jail custody or up to $1000 court fines. Besides, the judge could impose misdemeanor probation.
Nonetheless, when you cause serious injuries to the victim, irrespective of your criminal history, you will face felony charges. If the offense is filed as a felony, you risk the following penalties:
Formal or felony probation
Up to $10,000
24, 36, or 48 months in a state prison
Note that a felony conviction will result in loss of firearm ownership rights. So, when you retain possession or purchase a firearm after conviction, you will face felony charges under PEN 29800 for violation of felon with a gun statute. If you are a gun owner convicted of felony PC 243(d) offense, you should sell it off or surrender it to the local authorities to avoid additional felony charges.
Battery With Serious Bodily Injury Sentence Enhancement
According to the judge’s observation, if your victim’s serious physical injuries meet the standard of great bodily injury (GBI), you will face sentence enhancement. GBI is outlined under PEN 12022.7 as significant bodily injury.
Therefore, when the judge feels the victim’s injuries meet this threshold, you face consecutive and additional 36, 48, 60, or 72 months in state prison. The decision on the other penalties will be based on the victim’s age, the severity of the bodily harm, and the crime’s facts.
When the victim of the battery is a senior citizen 70 or older, your sentence enhancement will be severer. The same applies when the alleged victim is a minor five years or younger. In these cases, the sentence enhancement can extend to ten years.
Also, if your victim sustains GBI, this will constitute a strike under the Three Strikes law.
The fact-finder will consider the severity of the injuries, the level of pain, and the medical care required to treat the damage to determine whether the victim’s serious physical injuries amount to GBI. The injuries must surpass the requirements set under PC 243(d). Examples of GBI include:
Extreme pain caused by torture
When your victim sustains these and other GBI injuries, you risk sentence enhancement, which could result in a non-concurrent additional prison sentence. Luckily, you can still avoid the sentence enhancement, although it will not be a walk in the park. You must partner with the California Criminal Lawyer Group in Anaheim to put up solid defenses and convince the fact trier that the victim’s injuries do not meet the threshold of GBI to prevent a sentence enhancement.
Defenses to PEN 243(d) Violation Charges
A conviction for an aggravated battery can change your life entirely. A criminal record that results from the sentence could have many consequences in various aspects of your life. Securing college admission or a job will be a massive challenge because institutions will discriminate against you based on the record. The major problem with these charges is that even a simple offensive touch could result in a criminal record when you had no intentions of harming the victim. The court will treat you the same way they treat a violent person who attacked their victim with an object or weapon.
Fortunately, you can prevent a conviction and consequently a criminal record by mounting solid defenses to contest the charges, reducing them to simple battery, or dismissing them. Nonetheless, you need a profound lawyer to create and present these assertions in court. The defense strategies you can apply in your case are:
You were Acting in Self-Defense or Defense of Others
The primary defense for these charges is self-defense. It is an affirmative defense strategy meaning that when your lawyer asserts that you were acting in self-defense, they must present evidence before the jury to back the claim.
The defense will stand if you can demonstrate that you had reasonable belief that you or another party was in impending danger of sustaining physical injuries or being harmful or offensively touched. Again, you can assert that you were convinced that application of force was necessary to repel the danger and that you only used the required energy to repel the impending danger.
You do not need to retreat even after the danger has passed. You can continue pursuing the attacker until you are satisfied that the risk of being injured has passed.
Assume a person comes and punches you on the chest, and as a hasty reaction, you shove them hard. Due to the shove, the victim falls and sustains serious physical injuries. Your attorney will argue self-defense in the circumstances because you reasonably reacted to the victim’s punch.
It Was an Accident
The law is clear that you cannot be guilty of a crime when a victim sustains injuries due to an accident or misfortune. Therefore, if the victim suffered the injuries accidentally, you are not guilty of PEN 243(d) violation.
You are guilty of aggravated battery even if you never intended to cause harm when you touched the victim. Nevertheless, when the touch is accidental, you are innocent.
When using this defense, your lawyer will rely on the circumstances during which the touching occurred to demonstrate it was a misfortune. The lawyer can argue that you were walking in a crowd when you tripped, pushing the victim hard, resulting in their injuries. Under the circumstances, your actions do not amount to battery.
It is worth noting that when you intend to make offensive or harmful contact with another person but accidentally miss them hitting the victim, you cannot use an accident as your defense. The jury will consider your intent at the time of contact and transfer it to the actual victim and not the person you initially wanted to harm.
Also, you can claim that you were drunk and bumped into the victim by accident, but you never intended to make any contact. Even though you will not face battery charges, you will face charges for being drunk in public or disorderly conduct.
The Bodily Injuries Do Not Meet PEN 243(d) Requirements
Whether an injury is serious or not is open to interpretation by the trier of facts. The case’s circumstances often determine whether the injuries are serious or not. Many battery victims attempt to exaggerate the injuries by seeking the medical treatment they do not even require or complain of non-existence pain. Luckily, the fact-finder has the discretion to determine what injury is serious. So, it is up to your lawyer to do thorough homework and reveal the correct extent of the victim’s injuries instead of what reflects in the medical report or doctor’s statement presented by the prosecutor in court.
When you successfully demonstrate the injuries fall below the serious bodily injury threshold, your lawyer will convince the prosecutor to lower the charges to simple battery or assault, which attracts fewer penalties.
Lack of Evidence
In California, you can only be guilty of a criminal charge if the prosecutor proves the case’s facts beyond a reasonable doubt. However, inadequate evidence never deters the prosecuting team from filing charges. In some cases, the injuries sustained are not serious enough to allow for PEN 243(d) violation charges. In other cases, the police rush investigations, resulting in criminal counts with insufficient evidence.
When the only evidence presented by the prosecutor is the victim’s allegations and the investigating officer’s opinion, it will not be enough to convict you. Your lawyer can poke holes in the evidence to prove the charges against you are baseless. The prosecutor lacks sufficient evidence to prove all the elements of the count beyond reasonable certainty.
Evidence, Your Lawyer, Must Collect to Build Strong Defenses
Obtaining a favorable outcome in your aggravated battery case is not easy. Your lawyer must gather the proper evidence to strengthen their assertions in court. They will start by collecting physical evidence like DNA results, marks on the victim’s personal items, or any other physical proof to demonstrate a pattern of events leading to the injuries.
Similarly, the lawyer can rely on the victim’s statement to prove your innocence. Third-party witness statements are also crucial, whether written or verbal, because they help unfold the events at the crime scene. Witness statements will help prove who provoked the other or was the first to make offensive contact.
Also, your lawyer can rely on the medical report presented by the prosecutor in court to prove the extent of the injuries. Recall the wounds are open to interpretation by the jury. Therefore, the lawyer can rely on the same report to downplay the severity of the victim’s injuries, thus obtaining a favorable outcome.
Lastly, the police report on the incident is pivotal in building a solid defense because, unlike the victim’s account, the storyline of the police report does stay constant and does not keep shifting.
Some of the crimes charged alongside or in place of battery with serious bodily injury are:
According to PC 242, a simple battery is defined as using violence or force on another person. The court will find you guilty of this offense when the victim in question sustains minor injuries. The offense is charged in place of PEN 243(d) when an offensive or harmful touch does not result in serious physical harm. PC 242 is a lesser offense that attracts fewer penalties, like up to $2,000 court fines or no more than half a year in jail.
Therefore, when you are charged with PEN 243(d) violation, with the help of a profound lawyer, you can argue that the injuries sustained were minor, thus having the charge reduced to simple battery in a plea deal.
PEN 203 Mayhem
When you deprive another person of a body part, disfigure or disable a member of their body, you face mayhem charges. The offense is more severe than an aggravated battery, and a conviction results in as much as eight years of prison incarceration.
Under PEN 368, it is unlawful to inflict mental or physical pain on a senior citizen 65 or older. The court can convict you of both elder abuse and aggravated battery. The offense is a wobbler, meaning you could face a misdemeanor or felony charge. A felony conviction results in no more than $6,000 and up to 48 months of prison incarceration.
Assault With a Deadly Weapon
When you attack or attempt to attack someone else with a deadline weapon or in a fashion likely to inflict GBI, you will face charges under PEN 245(a)(1). The offense is related to aggravated battery in that you can use self-defense as a defense strategy in both cases.
PEN 243.4 criminalizes touching another person’s intimate parts with sexual gratification, abuse, or arousal. The private body parts defined under this statute include buttocks, female breasts, anus, or sexual organs.
PC 243.4 violation is a wobbler. A misdemeanor conviction will result in 60 months of summary probation, half a year in jail, or two thousand dollars in court fines. On the other hand, a felony conviction will result in ten thousand dollars in monetary court fines, third-tier registration as a sex offender, state incarceration, and formal probation.
Find an Santa Ana Criminal Lawyer Near Me
Battery with serious bodily injury charges in Anaheim can be confusing because of their nature. You probably cannot differentiate between a battery with serious injury and assault and the defenses to use to fight the charges. This is the right time to bring an attorney into the case. At the California Criminal Lawyer Group, we are available to help you understand your charges and walk you through this criminal process. Call us today at 714-766-0965 to schedule a meeting.